Hatter Saturday welcomes new Hatters to the Stetson family

a crowd of students
Admitted students and their families wore big smiles as they walked around Stetson during Hatter Saturday.

More than 500 new faces filled Stetson’s campus Saturday, April 6, as excited — and admitted — students and their families toured what could become their college home for the next four years during the second Hatter Saturday of the year.

The Stetson colors shined all through campus for the entirety of the day.

The day started early with a plethora of activities for potential first-year students to participate in, such as an academic showcase where they could learn more about the programs offered at Stetson, residential and Greek village tours, a community showcase where current Hatters engaged in displaying the vibrant and diverse activities Stetson has to offer, and lunch on the Stetson Green, among others.

Jeffery T. Gates, LPD

“What a perfect day to experience Stetson,” said Jeff Gates, Senior Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing. “Today, accepted students rang the bell as they decided that Stetson was going to be their home for the next four years.”

Cheerful laughs and chatter filled the air, alongside the intermittent ringing of the Victory Bell — which is rung every time an accepted student decides to commit and become part of the Hatter community.

Such was the case of Avery Cardi, 17, who currently attends Deltona High School, but had dreamt of being a Hatter for years.

Avery Cardi and his mother, Layssa Arroyo, checked out the John B. Stetson statue.

“I used to live in the area and we used to pass (Stetson) all the time,” he said. “When I was 13 or 14, I always wanted to come here and I’m really excited that I got to (commit) today. … I’m the first in my family to go to college and (Stetson) is a college I really wanted to be in. Everybody seems nice here and all the staff has been really nice to me and very respectful.”

For Cardi’s mom, Layssa Arroyo, seeing her son ring the Victory Bell was a moment she will treasure forever.

“I’m proud and sad, too,” she said. “But it’s great because he always wanted to go to this school and I’m really proud and excited for him.”

Syon Stuart rang the bell as his uncle and aunt, Nathan and Karen Knight, cheered him on.

For Windermere High School senior Syon Stuart, 17, deciding to commit to Stetson was a no-brainer, as the first time he stepped on campus, he realized he had found what he was looking for.

“There were (other) schools I wanted to go to in Florida, but I liked Stetson because when we came here, there were not a lot of people,” he said. “Here is more personalized, … that’s why we chose it.”

And while Sam Jensen, 18 — who currently attends Orangewood Christian School in Maitland — was ringing the Victory Bell, her mother, Kristen Jensen, shed tears of happiness.

Sam Jensen has received a lot of support from her parents, Ed and Kristen Jensen.

“It made me cry,” she said. “She’s worked so hard these past four years, she was one of the COVID-19 kids coming into high school and she has overcome so much and worked so hard, and it’s all paid off for her. I could not be more proud of her.”

Sam Jensen hopes to study psychology at Stetson and is truly looking forward to joining the tight-knit community of Hatters who already call Stetson their home. Even her father, Ed Jensen, got into the school spirit and said, “Go Hatters!” after seeing his daughter ring the bell.   

All in all, it can be said April 6 was another successful Hatter Saturday to showcase the campus to the soon-to-arrive Class of 2028.

Shannon Greeley

“Today is such a great day,” said Shannon Greeley, Director of Undergraduate Admissions. “Seeing students finalize their college decisions and become part of the Hatter family is always so great to see and be a part of. Our campus community is such an integral part of this day and helping students and families become confident in their choice of becoming a Hatter.”

-Andrea Mujica